Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #16: “No One Can Snatch Us”

Today, we continue with our series responding to “Meeting the Protestant Challenge: How to Answer 50 Biblical Objections to Catholic Beliefs” (2019), written by Karlo Broussard. With this next chapter, the Catholic apologist continues his six-part section on Salvation by countering Protestants’ claim that “No One Can Snatch Us.”

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Broussard begins this next chapter on salvation by presenting the following Bible passage as one that Protestants often use as a proof text for absolute assurance of salvation for the believer:

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” – John 10:27-29

Roman Catholicism in contrast teaches that a person is saved by sacramental grace and merit, and that after initial justification (i.e., baptism), salvation can be lost with the very next mortal sin. Broussard agrees that while no external power can snatch a “believer” out of the Father’s hands, he asserts the “believer” can willfully forfeit salvation by sinning. Broussard offers the following two passages as proof texts:

John 15:4-6: “I am the vine; you are the branches…If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.”

Matthew 24:45-51: Describes the wicked servant who is cut in pieces by the returning Master and consigned with the hypocrites.

Let’s begin our rebuttal of Broussard’s argument by defining our terms. Gospel Christians and Catholics disagree on what constitutes a “believer.” Gospel Christians hold that all those who repent of sin and accept Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone are believers, while Catholics assert that all those who are baptized and attempt to attain salvation via sacramental grace and merit are “believers.” With that important distinction made, let’s look at Broussard’s proof texts.

In John 15:4-6, “abide” is mentioned five times. The abiding believer is the only genuine believer. A person who is genuinely saved in Christ will continue to abide in Christ through God’s power and will necessarily bear fruit. Those who never bear fruit were never genuinely saved. Some commentators suggest that the fruitless branches in this passage refer rather to the unworthy works of wood, hay, and straw of a disobedient believer that will be destroyed, while the believer himself/herself will still be saved (see 1 Corinthians 3:11-15). I tend to lean towards the first interpretation rather than the latter. The article far below, “Does the vine and branches passage in John 15 mean that salvation can be lost?,” provides a good explanation of this passage.

In Matthew 24:45-51, the wicked “servant” (Greek: δοῦλος, doulos, slave) refers to a pseudo-Christian, an unbeliever. In Jesus’s illustration, being a servant/slave did not equate to being a genuinely saved child of God. The wicked servant/slave in this passage is a false believer. False professors must one day stand before the Lord and give an account of their sinful life.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” – Matthew 7:21-23

Genuine believers will abide in Christ. Neither externals or personal sin can remove a genuine believer from Christ and from the Father’s hand. The Bible declares believers are born again into God’s family, adopted by God, when they trust in Christ:

“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” – Romans 8:14-17

Being born again doesn’t mean perfection in this world. Believers will continue to sin. Only Jesus lived a perfectly sinless life. Does God “unadopt” a believer out of His family every time they sin, only to adopt them back again if/when they confess, and over and over and over? Such is the Catholic view. Genuine believers will desire to joyfully follow the Lord in obedience, albeit imperfectly.

But what of those people who claimed to have accepted Jesus Christ as Savior, but never bore any fruit and may have even renounced God? What about those Bible verses and passages that seemingly refer to apostates? The Bible says such persons never genuinely accepted Christ.

“They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.” – 1 John 2:19

Apostates are those pew sitters (and even ministry workers) who never genuinely trusted in Christ and eventually ended their charade.

Important: Roman Catholics profess to be “Christians,” yet seek to establish their own righteousness as their means to salvation, rather than submitting to God’s righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ alone (Romans 10:3).

The two articles below are very helpful in this discussion of the assurance of a genuine believer:

Does the vine and branches passage in John 15 mean that salvation can be lost?
https://www.gotquestions.org/vine-and-branches.html

If our salvation is eternally secure, why does the Bible warn so strongly against apostasy?
https://www.gotquestions.org/apostasy-salvation.html

Next up: “Sanctified For All Time”

28 thoughts on “Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #16: “No One Can Snatch Us”

  1. Thanks Tom. Those whom GOD has chosen (i.e. elected) before creation, will be His own (i.e. saved). It is all His grace and that the GOD in three persons work on the saved individual e.g. the Holy Spirit convicts and intercedes. And GOD will discipline whom He loves (who sin).

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    1. Thanks, Gersom. I’m somewhere in the middle of the Calvin-Arminian debate, one of those Baptists who believes in man’s freewill, but that our freewill somehow inexplicably works in conjunction with God’s grace and sovereign will. All in all, I definitely lean more towards Calvinism than Arminianism.

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      1. We would only know which is the right one in heaven. But then again, when we ask JESUS at that time which one, I’m definitely sure, GOD would say, “my grace is sufficient for you.”

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  2. I guess Broussard doesn’t understand the visible church/invisible church distinction.

    Pope Gregory the Great (c. 540-603): And because in the Church the wicked are mingled with the good, and the condemned with the elect, it can be said to be like wise and foolish virgins. Dom David Hurst, trans., Gregory the Great, Forty Gospel Homilies, Homily 10, Matthew 25:1-13 (Kalamazoo: Cistercian Publications, 1990), p. 69.

    Augustine (354-430): Whom has he called antichrists? He goes on and expounds. “Whereby we know that it is the last hour,” By what? Because “many antichrists are come. They went out from us;” see the antichrists! “They went out from us:” therefore we bewail the loss. Hear the consolation. “But they were not of us.” All heretics, all schismatics went out from us, that is, they go out from the Church; but they would not go out, if they were of us. Therefore, before they went out they were not of us. If before they went out they were not of us. Many are within, are not gone out, but yet are antichrists. We dare to say this: and why, but that each one while he is within may not be an antichrist? For he is about to describe and mark the antichrists, and we shall see them now. And each person ought to question his own conscience, whether he be an antichrist. For antichrist in our tongue means, contrary to Christ. Not, as some take it, that antichrist is to be so called because he is to come ante Christum, before Christ, i.e. Christ to come after him: it does not mean this, neither is it thus written, but Antichristus, i.e. contrary to Christ. Now who is contrary to Christ ye already perceive from the apostle’s own exposition, and understand that none can go out but antichrists; whereas those who are not contrary to Christ, can in no wise go out. For he that is not contrary to Christ holds fast in His body, and is counted therewith as a member. The members are never contrary one to another. The entire body consists of all the members. And what saith the apostle concerning the agreement of the members? “If one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; and if one member be glorified, all the members rejoice with it.” If then in the glorifying of a member the other members rejoice with it, and in its suffering all the members suffer, the agreement of the members hath no antichrist. And there are those who inwardly are in such sort in the body of our Lord Jesus Christ — seeing His body is yet under cure, and the soundness will not be perfect save in the resurrection of the dead — are in such wise in the body of Christ, as bad humors. When these are vomited up, the body is relieved: so too when bad men go out, then the Church is relieved. And one says, when the body vomits and casts them out, These humors went out of me, but they were not of me. How were not of me? Were not cut out of my flesh, but oppressed my breast while they were in me. NPNF1: Vol. VII, Ten Homilies on the First Epistle of John, Homily 3.4.

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    1. Thanks, Jesse! That’s an outstanding argument! The Romanists dichotomously insist they cannibalize Jesus while at the same time denying it. Thanks for bringing the post to my attention.

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  3. It seems Mr. Apologist haven’t exam other verses that teach on assurance of salvation and opt instead for passages that are parables that can be misinterpreted with the details beyond the limited point of the parable. Good post brother.

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    1. Thanks, brother! These chapters on justification and salvation by Broussard make crystal clear how Catholicism is a totally works-righteousness system. The “faith” that they refer to is faith in the system. I wish unwitting evangelical ecumenists would sit down and read this book. It’s entirely logical that Catholics would reject assurance of salvation because their justification is dependent on their obedience/”goodness.”

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      1. Regrettably true. Even evangelicals who are steeped in theology get sucked in. Not to beat a dead horse, but William Lane Craig stated he could never convert to Catholicism because it was wrong on justification, yet he still embraces it as “Christian.” Craig would read the six salvation/justification chapters in this book and completely disagree with Broussard and still embrace him as a “brother in Christ.” Mindblowing.

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  4. Hello Tom, Catholics seem to depend on the New Perspective on Paul when confronted with texts such as Romans 3:28. They try to differential between “works” and “works of the law.” Could 1 Timothy 1:8-10 be used to weaken that distinction? After all, Paul is using the term “law” in a sense broader than boundary markers.

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    1. Jesse, thanks for this excellent point. Yes, in 1 Timothy 1:8-10, Paul is clearly identifying the precepts on morality as the “Law.” Catholicism ham-fistedly distinguishes between the morality precepts and the Levitical rituals of the Law in order to skirt such verses/passages as Romans 3:20 and Galatians 2:16, but Paul sets them straight in 1 Timothy 1:8-10.

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      1. Or we can use their “infallible” interpreter against them:

        Benedict XVI (Joseph Ratzinger): So what does the Law from which we are liberated and which does not save mean? For St Paul, as for all his contemporaries, the word “Law” meant the Torah in its totality, that is, the five books of Moses.
        http://w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/audiences/2008/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20081119.html

        So as we can see, their own Pope says it’s more than just the “boundary” markers, it’s EVERYTHING in the Torah, including the commands on morality.

        Bible Christians don’t need the “infallible” interpreter though as we have Gal 3:10 that tells us what it means.

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  5. This is just as heretical as the last chapter. I do not nor will I ever believe that a person can lose their salvation. My response would be that person was never saved. Apostates are nothing new. If you keep congregants scared, you can manipulate and control them. Rather than giving people the Good News the RCC is filling people with fear, doubt, worry, guilt, anxiety that can only be remedied by working harder and doing more. So very sad.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Mandy. Since the RCC’s soteriology is based upon how successfully a member obey’s the Ten Commandments (impossible!), then not one person, including the pope, prelates, and priests can have any genuine joy and peace. It’s a perpetual legalistic treadmill.

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